Kentucky governor Andy Beshear and Ohio governor Mike DeWine have signed a memorandum of understanding confirming their states’ intention to work together on the project to relieve congestion on and around the bridge linking Covington in Kentucky to Cincinnati in Ohio.
They are seeking funding from the bipartisan federal infrastructure bill. If the requested funds are awarded to Kentucky and Ohio, they would primarily be used to build a new companion bridge over the Ohio River to give drivers an alternative to the Brent Spence Bridge.
The memorandum also directs transportation officials in both states to begin preparations for construction. A more detailed interstate agreement will be signed later this year.
“With today’s signing, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the State of Ohio are aligning our efforts to make this project a reality,” said Beshear. “This memorandum spells out our obligations and positions us to quickly apply for these federal dollars, which will allow us not only to build this new bridge, but to do it without tolls! And just as important: this project shows what we in government can do when we embrace cooperation and progress and simply do what is best for our people.”
DeWine said: “For decades, the backups on the Brent Spence Bridge have frustrated drivers, hindered economic development and slowed supply chain deliveries. Today, a solution is in reach, and we are committed to aggressively working together to secure this funding to help us fix this transportation nightmare once and for all. Not only will this project improve quality of life for drivers in Ohio and Kentucky, but keeping this major transportation network open and moving will also have a significant positive impact on our national economy and national security.”
The Brent Spence Bridge was constructed in the 1960s to carry around 80,000 vehicles a day, but the daily I-75 and I-71 traffic load has reached 160,000 vehicles in recent years. I-75 is a key freight corridor stretching from Canada to Florida and so the slowdowns also impact commerce throughout the eastern United States.
The teams at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) have been planning the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project for nearly two decades, completing groundwork that has made it nearly ‘shovel ready’. Project construction could potentially begin in 2024 if funding is received.
Alternative designs (below) have been developed by Parsons Brinckerhoff in association with Rosales & Partners.
“The Brent Spence Bridge is the critical link in this important corridor,” said KYTC secretary Jim Gray. “New funding will support the construction of a new bridge – not a replacement – as well as updates to the existing bridge and the interstate network throughout the corridor. The Brent Spence Bridge is safe and structurally sound and will serve a critical transportation need for decades to come.”
“The signing of this document is a very clear and public show of action by both states,” said Dr Jack Marchbanks, director of ODOT. “This critical step will help be competitive in the federal grant process and will allow the bi-state team to start moving this project forward.”